[HRE] (Incognito) State Visit to Daocheng

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[HRE] (Incognito) State Visit to Daocheng

Post by Shiro » Tue Sep 17, 2019 8:33 pm

His pace was slow, but inexorable. A young man in his twenties gracefully swept past the crowd of various palace officials, diplomats, and bureaucrats. The man wore an expression resembling one who is fully comfortable with his purpose and also comfortable in his ability to fulfill that purpose. The young man was clearly from Ralgon. He bore a quasi-military uniform similar to its other diplomats, but there was clearly an unknown air of authority that seemed to set him apart from the crowd.

As with other Ralgons, he wore very few decorations, but every mark on his person bore the fact that he was clearly a celebrated hero of his people. His expression was outwardly soft towards others (with the exception of a fierce scar over his left eye), but it was profoundly clear to anyone with a trained eye that his one was already a veteran of many battles in which he fought for his life.

With him, he carried several parcels of various size and shape, which he refused to let anyone cast their eye on for too long before returning a hardened expression of his own. Any wrappings were exquisite, but in Ralgon tradition their decorations were kept few, with the austerity of the look lending an odd aesthetic beauty to the rest of the entire ensemble the young man carried.

He guarded these items personally as if they were precious relics each worth more than an entire city to themselves, and ensured that he religiously kept at least an arm's length worth of distance between himself and all others. Most of the court did not know who the young man was; he refused to have himself formally announced to the crowd, instead making a request that his entrance be announced privately to those in charge of immediately knowing of such matters.

The young man made a beeline directly towards Crown Prince Draeg'ar Ral, who was already assembled with his own diplomatic delegation off to one side of the chamber. It was very clear his visit was unexpected, for he was met with a quiet admonishment from the esteemed Ralgon. Their ensuing conversation went unheard above the subdued background noise in the chamber from many people talking at once, and except for a brief moment, it was entirely unclear who the superior party was in this exchange. As the crowd around them began to disperse, though, a faint conversation could be heard by those whose business it was to listen:

"Why are you here?" *Prince Draeg'ar decides to start the conversation on an aggressive note.*

"Easy. I'm here to visit. Your success has produced nothing but good news during this past year, and I'm here to follow up with something that is sure to make everyone even happier." *The young man does not, even for the briefest moment, once lose his composure. A very noticeable scar over his left eye stands in contrast to an otherwise flawless, clean-shaven face. Although his medium-length, bright yellow hair almost suggests an unkempt look, is fire-blue eyes pierce a hole straight into his counterpart's soul, giving way to the truth that this look was built for a purpose.*

"Without a guard?" *Prince Draegar wears an expression of clear concern on his face, as well as a look akin to displeasure at a colleague he noticeably respects.*

"I had one. I told them to quietly disperse as I drew near this building complex. I don't like sticking out when I don't need to. Besides, my visit was supposed to be kept under wraps to just about anyone besides us and them. Well, until they decide otherwise, of course." *The young man keeps up his end of the battle without losing momentum.* "I also brought the package myself. All the stuff in it's ours, after all."

"You realize that you're a Ralgon Emperor now, right? Your days of romping around the world effectively ended the moment when the weight of that holy scepter found itself in your hand. Imagine the panic the people might be in if something happened to you outside of our country." The Prince keeps his voice subdued. A Ralgon Emperor outside of Ralgon territory was completely unheard of. His master had already repeatedly broken that rule by leading men onto the battlefield, but defending his people was one thing. As important as a mission here of all places was, such a concept was still outside the realm of consideration to this traditionalist.*

*The young man hardly breaks his stride, although a dark cloud briefly forms over his eyes.* "If our Holy Scepter's weight is so heavy that previous Emperors could not take it outside of their comfort zone, perhaps we ought to ensure anyone who is given the thing maintains the strength to hold it. Gone are the days when the Emperor gets to sit in the Palace and do nothing while others are forced to make the ultimate sacrifice on our behalf."

*Before the two begin to move deeper into the chamber to await an audience, the young man makes one last point:* "Never let your crown be your excuse, for anything. As we are the Emperor of our people, there are certain responsibilities that are uniquely ours to bear. In this particular instance, this definitely one of them."

*Before Prince Draeg'ar has a chance to recover and retort back at the young man, he's instead handed a letter. He begins to read it, and the color drains from his face. He briefly loses his otherwise stoic composure before regaining it once again. "Just, damn. This is why you never sent me back home, isn't it?"

*The young man nods in affirmation as the weight of it all falls on Prince Draeg'ar's mind. He wonders how long his Emperor had been planning all of this, but this wasn't the time to make a scene. Whatever his master was planning, he'd find out soon enough.*
Here is Affixed the Signature of:

His Most Virtuous Excellency,
Shiro I, Emperor of Ralgon

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Raz
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Re: [HRE] (Incognito) State Visit to Daocheng

Post by Raz » Wed Sep 18, 2019 5:47 pm

Tegong agents shadowing the two esteemed individuals nod politely when they are offered a cup of coffee. The coffee lady serves it to them together with a butter biscuit, which they put aside out of fear that there would be crumbs on their uniforms. As they are drinking from their fine Jingdaoese bone cups they continue to observe the two foreigners.

"A bit unusual, all this." one of the agents says.

"The emperor has personally authorized this to take place." the other says.

"Of course, I should have taken more care in finding my words." the first one replies.
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Re: [HRE] (Incognito) State Visit to Daocheng

Post by Shiro » Thu Sep 19, 2019 1:34 am

It was all choreographed to absolute perfection. The Tegong agents following them on mutual authorization, the arrival of a mysterious parcel in the palace beforehand... a series of side chambers surreptitiously set up... everything shows very subtle signs of falling into perfect harmony with a series of events that are now quite inevitable. The young man is thoroughly pleased with the Jing's attention to detail in this most important matter.

*The young man adjusts his uniform and knocks out a wrinkle that seems to have snuck its way in during the walk from the chamber's door, even if it isn't necessary. Although each one of the few decorations he wears adds up to an elaborate disguise, they're all real, and they are all rightfully earned. In fact, it was the very uniform he wore the morning of his coronation. His "working uniform," as he frequently refers to it in jest, lies in wait around the corner, and he alone bears the right to wear it.*

The Package Beneath the Veil
It sits alongside a similar item on a stand, having been carefully unpackaged and concealed until the appointed moment. The young man has clearly prepared it as a gift in friendship, but it is abundantly clear that there is much greater purpose lying beneath that veil because he also brought other items with him. Not even Prince Draeg'ar knows what's in there, never mind what it signifies. The thought causes a wry smile to barely register on the young man's face.

There were no other items in the world like this. A spear sat underneath a veil on that stand: it was made from the near-indestructible bones and near-impenetrable scales of the fiercest creature ever known to the Ralgons: an elder lightning dragon. It preserved the colors of the great monster it was taken from: a vibrant sky blue and a yellow the color of the midday sun: the exact colors of the Ralgon Emperor's personal set of dragonscale armor, taken and forged from the very monster he fought a desperate contest with not that long ago. It also became his everyday working uniform.

Made with the aid of the finest craftsmen in the realm, crafting dragonscale materials such as these present their own challenges, if only from all the ceremony and custom also required in the making of these things. The dragon slayer is made to take part during the entire process, start to finish, be it for armor or even a simple dagger that takes minutes to carve from bone (as rare as that item is in its own right). From that moment on, everything he forges belongs to him and his descendants in perpetuity. In the young man's case, this spear belonged exclusively to him, along with the abnormally large collection of weapons and armor made from the bones, hide, sinew, and scales of the elder dragon he slew before his unexpected election and coronation as Emperor.

Such personal pieces could never be bought with something as common as money, nor ever be exchanged with something that money could purchase in turn. Personal arms are never sold, and national arms are regarded as treasures to be worn only by the most meritorious on dire occasion. It is a saying in Ralgon that a common man could work for a lifetime and still not afford to buy a scale he has not earned, and a noble would need to trade his sword arm if he wanted to own another man's dragon bone dagger for a day. In Ralgon, only the original owner has the right to give up his weapons, even for a moment.

Two other items sit beneath the spear covered behind the veil, both of much greater historical importance. Both were recovered by a hunting party far to the west of the ancient city of Jento, deep in the island's western interior, in a destroyed outpost of unknown origin, this being at the foothills of a forgotten mountain range. One was a map to an ancient city full of incomparably old treasures likely originating from whatever people both the Jing and Ralgons claimed a shared heritage from.

Another is a knife that, according to the ruins it was found in, belonged to a famous "demon slayer" that lived interminably long ago, whose origin have been lost to time for many eons on this side of the temporal rift. The only surviving name the outpost bore was "Sisera," which was still found carved onto the now-rusted blade, albeit very faintly. Whether the knife was hers (or what relation she even had with this land) was still unclear to the Ralgons. But to the Jing? It could be another story entirely.
*The Jing do not yet know of the exact nature of these items, or even why the Ralgon Emperor himself would come visit, don his most valuable piece of clothing, and make such a bizarre offer of "interesting cultural items." Even the Ralgons are unsure, but curiosity and the chance to uncover more artifacts and cultural knowledge beyond even the thought of price is something that would make for a fine reason to join their ever-so-distant cousins on a little adventure. Or, this is at least the thought that runs through the young man's mind as he rapidly and efficiently sets things up.*

----------

*It isn't long at all before the event begins to play out in earnest. The Ralgon delegation quietly announces their desire for an audience, and the ones trailing them would immediately know that their quarry is ready for business in the next room, all decked out in his "business uniform." Beside him sit several packages the agents saw earlier sitting to his right, in addition to the secret items he has hidden underneath the all-important veil behind and to his left.*

*Outside of this bizarre turn of events, the young man has performed flawlessly. He is arrayed in only the finest garments he possesses, and has even set the first parcel up: a small package of the finest possible tea leaves from the Gardens of Thr'or before him for his hosts to enjoy at their own pleasure, as a token gift in kind for the exquisite brew they served to Crown Prince Draeg'ar beforehand. The first round of gifts, consisting of similar priceless, exquisite gemstones the Ralgons gave to the Jing last time, is also ready.*

*It is obvious that this is no normal event the Ralgons wish to start. Under most circumstances, the entire set of gifts is given beforehand or during the initial meeting. In visits of importance such as this, it is instead customary in the Ralgon homeland for parties to exchange a series of increasingly astonishing gifts throughout the meeting to build a stronger rapport between them. The first gift in any set is always a token of appreciation (in this case the finest tea), and leads even past the main event, at a point in the meeting where both sides have fallen into complete harmony with one another on the main topic at hand.*

Now, let's get the fun part started, shall we?
Here is Affixed the Signature of:

His Most Virtuous Excellency,
Shiro I, Emperor of Ralgon

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Re: [HRE] (Incognito) State Visit to Daocheng

Post by Shiro » Fri Sep 27, 2019 4:01 am

((We're still doing this, right?))
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Re: [HRE] (Incognito) State Visit to Daocheng

Post by Raz » Sat Sep 28, 2019 6:41 am

The wheels of the Jingdaoese Empire turn slowly at times. Do not worry, I will track Jonas down, shove some XTC pills in his throat and force him at gunpoint to finish this story. Once I can be bothered, see LOA thread.

:Court:
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Re: [HRE] (Incognito) State Visit to Daocheng

Post by Shiro » Sun Oct 13, 2019 10:44 pm

((Is this still a thing?))
Here is Affixed the Signature of:

His Most Virtuous Excellency,
Shiro I, Emperor of Ralgon

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Re: [HRE] (Incognito) State Visit to Daocheng

Post by Raz » Mon Nov 04, 2019 6:16 pm

If you would still like to continue, and Jonas isn't interested. I can do my worst in the weekend?
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Re: [HRE] (Incognito) State Visit to Daocheng

Post by Shiro » Tue Nov 05, 2019 9:21 pm

((That will work perfectly!))
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Re: [HRE] (Incognito) State Visit to Daocheng

Post by Raz » Fri Nov 08, 2019 8:16 pm

After what had seemed an eternity, but was exactly ten minutes, a servant rolls a trolley with a gas stove, a kettle and some cups in. The servant lights the stove, puts the kettle on it and watches the kettle with great intensity. As the water starts to boil he slowly counts to ten, then removes the kettle from the flames. Again the servant counts to ten before proceeding to put ten small scoops of imperial white tea in a porcelain pot.

All the time, not a single word is spoken and all the attendees face the floor for a full ten minutes. When these minutes pass a loud gong is heard and a bright burning torch is carried in through the golden palace doors. All attendees now close their eyes, as this light is so bright it would damage their retina if they would look at it. The servant however, has put on a goggle not unlike the sort worn by welders.

"Zhu, cha" he says to the Ralgon Emperor who is presented the first cup of tea.
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Re: [HRE] (Incognito) State Visit to Daocheng

Post by Shiro » Thu Dec 12, 2019 4:06 am

For the young Emperor of the Ralgons, ten minutes is nothing. In fact, it provides some much needed repose, which is undoubtedly the purpose behind this small part of the tea ceremony. Shiro faces forward, refusing to keep his direct gaze on any individual in the room -- such is the protocol demanded of one in his position, whether he be host or guest. No ruler shows direct favor to servants, be they his own or someone else's. Neither does he say a word nor make any sort of sound. His host hasn't spoken yet, and it would be sacriligeous for any guest (regardless of importance) to speak and break the serene silence in any place before the host does so themselves.

The young man is arrayed in his absolute best, in the very same blue-and-yellow dragonscale armor that signals eternal glory to whoever has the right to don that armor. It is highly irregular for warriors to visit a palace still wearing armor, but his very unique position affords him special rights here not enjoyed by any but an extreme few in this world. Even outside of a display of status, protocol in this very meeting demands it. All Ralgons serve the state, and the Ralgon state has for centuries existed for the sole purpose of destroying the world's worst monsters. Thus, the visit of a warrior is much more important for these purposes than a visit by some stuffy politician.

At last, the tea is made ready. Just before the pot is made ready, though, the gong rings ten times. Shiro notices everyone closing their eyes or putting on protective eyewear for some odd reason, and he finds out why. The host arrives precisely on time, and the room is flooded with blinding light. The young man remains resolute in the face of this presence, being the only one capable of looking at this person directly. The young man gazes in the Heavenly Light's general direction and signals his respect, knowing he has a thing or two to learn from this one.

Despite the servant's indication of the offer of tea, silence is still demanded of all guests until the host chooses to speak. As the cup of tea is poured and the servant sets it in front of him, Shiro keeps to the rules, religiously. The young man subtly signals in gratitude to his hosts for their immense hospitality, once again not locking gaze with the servant and remaining strictly silent, however important outside of this room he may be. It is just the way things must go.
Here is Affixed the Signature of:

His Most Virtuous Excellency,
Shiro I, Emperor of Ralgon

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Re: [HRE] (Incognito) State Visit to Daocheng

Post by Raz » Sat Dec 14, 2019 12:20 pm

With exactly ten sips, all of the same volume as etiquette proscribes it, all ten attendees finish their tea. The servant takes the cups from the attendees, to put them back on the trolley. He kneels before the Heavenly Light, places his hands on his back and opens his mouth. The emperor, who is a man of very few words, nods.

"Jie, lizan"* the emperor says, thanking the servant and laying a dry biscuit in the servant's mouth. The servant closes his mouth but does not chew on the cookie yet, but instead crawls backward out of the room.

After the servant has crawled out of the room, and the trolley with the empty tea cups has been removed by another servant, the Heavenly Light turns to the Ralgon Emperor.

"Aizi, jianghua."** he says.

* Servant, well done. in Jingdaoese.
** Beloved son, speak. in Jingdaoese.
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Re: [HRE] (Incognito) State Visit to Daocheng

Post by Shiro » Fri Dec 20, 2019 8:03 am

Almost by happenstance, the Ralgons had brought ten gifts, only eight of which were on the stand behind him. Those could wait, however. This particular item is of utmost importance.

The Ralgon Emperor pulls the first of these two missing items from a concealed place within his own armor: Sisera's Dagger. Normally, this would be an unconscionable act, but this happened to be more an item of extreme cultural importance instead of a functioning weapon. In fact, the eons had dulled the ancient blade's edge to the point of being ineffective at picking teeth, never mind defending one's self against anything at all.

The best forensics experts in the Holy Ralgon Empire had indeed tested the blade, which had stains from creatures it had once slain. The residue from the blade's owner had even survived the temporal rift the island of Dragos experienced, and matched with artifacts that Ralgon and Jing officals had been given special permission to match in pieces kept from public view. This was the first of Sisera's artefacts that were discovered outside of Jing territory, and the Ralgons had decided to make a gift of this priceless treasure that predated their very civilization in this world.

The rest of the gifts are presented in due order, and while the servants are attending to them, Shiro places a map on the table. He explains to his elder counterpart that, during an expedition he personally led to the Wildlands west of developed Ralgon county on the island of Dragos, they came across an ancient, near-intact tower amid a much larger ruined complex that contained a small number of artifacts, including the map and knife. Sitting on the western half of the Great Divide, the tower is in a valley that is formed from the Great Divide's child mountain ranges that criss-cross the large island's western interior.

However, the tower itself (and its surrounding ruins) were nigh-inaccessible because the entire mountain range encircling the tower's valley was infested by elder dragons of the most hostile sort. In fact, most of that expedition did not survive the return journey, and the fighting was the very source of the savage scar the young man bears on his arm as a memento of that journey. However, a very few brief minutes inside the tower had already yielded these two priceless treasures.

If a curtailed expedition could yield items like this, the Ralgons felt that a great number of other anicent artefacts would be uncovered from the area. These items no doubt have a common heritage for both the Ralgons and the Jingdao. The Ralgon offer is, itself, a gift. The young man explains that the Ralgons are inviting the Jing to send their best warriors with them on an expedition to conquer the island's interior and finish securing the western half of Dragos. In doing so, the Heavenly Light and his children would enjoy the bounty that would inevitably result from the Ralgons' invitation.

The young Ralgon Emperor offers to send enough troops, ammunition, and equipment needed to wage the campaign in full force, as well as the expeditionary force meant to secure, excavate, and preserve the ruins they found. The Jing, should they wish, need only send what men they wish to, so that both may enjoy a great victory together and forge their friendship anew in the heat of battle against the last major war against the world's worst known monsters.
Here is Affixed the Signature of:

His Most Virtuous Excellency,
Shiro I, Emperor of Ralgon

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